WordPress Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

Understanding how WordPress works


From:

WordPress Essential Training

with Morten Rand-Hendriksen

Video: Understanding how WordPress works

When you own or operate a website running WordPress, So when you access WordPress on your server, you're actually running this And, there's a configuration file named WP-config, Right now lets take a closer look at the WP config file.
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      Free What's new in WordPress 4.0
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      Free What's new in 4.1
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      Free What is WordPress?
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      Free Setting the language of your WordPress installation
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      Free Understanding the difference between posts and pages
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WordPress 3.x Tutorials | WordPress Essential Training
5h 44m Beginner Jan 17, 2014 Updated Dec 18, 2014

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

WordPress powers millions of blogs and websites. Learn how to create your own with this powerful publishing platform. Staff author Morten Rand-Hendriksen will help you get the most out of the self-hosted version of WordPress and create feature-rich blogs and websites. Morten explains how to create and publish posts and pages; customize your site with themes, widgets, and custom menus; and extend WordPress even further with plugins. Even more, Morten will show how to get more readers with social media sharing and comments, and adjust the settings that keep your site safe and secure.

Topics include:
  • What is WordPress?
  • Installing and running WordPress
  • Publishing posts and pages
  • Using page templates
  • Inserting images, video, and other media
  • Editing posts
  • Changing themes
  • Installing plugins
  • Adding other users
  • Securing your WordPress site
Subject:
Web
Software:
WordPress
Author:
Morten Rand-Hendriksen

Understanding how WordPress works

When you own or operate a website running WordPress, it's important that you understand how WordPress actually works. It's one thing to understand how you can use the web interface of WordPress to manage content. But it's also important to understand the inner workings of WordPress, itself. Both how the application works, and also how it communicates with a database and other files. What you see here on the screen, is WordPress. On the left hand side is the application itself. It consists of a series of files that usually are prefixed with WP dash, and then something, and then three main folders; WP-Admin, WP-Content, and WP-Include.

On the right hand side, you have the WordPress database. Now, when I set up my WordPress installation on this computer, I used wp underscore as the prefix for my database tables. If you changed your database tables to something else, you'll see that prefix instead. So when you access WordPress on your server, you're actually running this piece of software that you see here on the right hand side. The software has several different components. It's the main application, and within the main application you have an Admin panel.

You have all your content, which includes your Plug Ins, your Themes, your Upgrades, and also, any uploads. So, all the images that you sent up to your site are stored here. And, there's a configuration file named WP-config, that helps Word Press talk to the database. The database has different tables for the different types of content you have inside your WordPress site. You have Comments and Comment meta data. You have Links. You have Options. You have Posts and Post meta data.

You have taxonomy, that would be the categories and tags. You have Users and User meta and so on. So any time you make a change, either inside WordPress Admin, or you create something new, like a new Post or Page, all that information is sent into this database. Now that you see there's a clear separation here between WordPress, the application, and the database that contains all of your settings and information. It should become clear that WordPress itself has nothing to do with the information you enter into Wordpress.

That also means, if something goes wrong with WordPress, if it stops working properly or if an update crashes, you can actually just remove the application and then just replace it with a newer version, and it'll come back up again. The only thing within WordPress, this set of files that you need to keep. Is the WP config files which is the configuration file that helps you talk to the data base and the WP content folder which contains all your uploads, themes, and plugins. Right now lets take a closer look at the WP config file.

'Kay so this the file that helps WordPress talk to the database. The wp-config file is the only file within WordPress, the application, that you have to set up to get WordPress to work. Now if you used the five minute install that comes with WordPress, WordPress itself would create this file for you, but in some cases you have to configure it on your own. If something were to go wrong with your WordPress site, or you need to do a hard update, or you need to take over management of a WordPress site you didn't set up, it's always a good idea to go into the WPconfig file, and find out how it's set up.

Here you see there isn't all that much information. What matters is the top here, where you have your MySQL settings, here you have your database name. Your database username and password, and also the database host name. Further down, you have your KEYS and SALTS. So I haven't installed these here because this site is running locally on my computer. But normally you would have authentication keys here, that make it harder for hackers to get into your site. If you don't have the authentication keys you can go to the URL that's provided right here in the WP config file and that URL will automatically create randomized keys for you that you can just paste in here in place of what you already see.

Scrolling down, there's a couple of extra interesting tidbits, here you have the Table prefix, when you set up WordPress, you define a Table prefix. But you can also define it here within the config file just remember that once you define the Table prefix, you can't change it, if you do that, then WordPress won't be able to find the Table from the database. You can also define a localized language for WordPress. By default, it's set to English, but here you can change it to another language if you want. And for developers, this is where you find the WP_DEBUG feature.

By default it's set to false, but in some cases you may want to debug either a Theme or a Plugin, or find out why something is going wrong. And in that case you can go in here change the WP debug feature to True and then you'll have debugging within WordPress itself. The chances of you having to work with a WP config file are small, but, if you have to work with the file, here you can see, that it's not all that complicated. Just like with everything else in WordPress, everything is spelled out very clearly, all the functions are semantic and easy to understand, and whenever there's something complex, there's comments within the file itself to explain to you what is needed and how this usually works.

So now that you understand how WordPress works, we'll take a look at how we can use that knowledge to figure components within WordPress.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about WordPress Essential Training .


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Q: How do I take the local version of my WordPress site and publish it on the web?
A: The course WordPress Quick Tips: Migration and Database Reset shows you how to migrate a local site to production. The method shown creates a new duplicate of the original website, but it requires detailed database work and effectively results in a hard reset of the target site. Proceed carefully.
Q: This course was updated on 9/04/2014. What changed?
A: We updated nine movies to reflect changes to WordPress 4.0.
Q: This course was updated on 12/18/2014. What changed?
A: We added two new movies and updated a third to reflect changes to WordPress 4.1, including the new default theme, Twenty Fifteen.
 
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